Best Behind-the-Scenes Dance Series

Links Hall's Peep Show

Critics' Picks

Links Hall at Constellation, 3111 N. Western, 773-281-0824,

The hottest blind date in dance is the series of unconventional collaborations going on at Links Hall. For each show, different artists—two local dance companies and a musical guest—meet, greet, and get on the floor. Before everyone, audience and performers, takes a seat to listen to a (usually) never-before-heard composition written by the musical guest, the dancers hop around, all piss and vinegar and adrenaline-fueled restlessness. After listening, the dancers solicit input and impressions, but the creative onus is on them over the next 40 minutes, as the companies split up into two adjacent studios to pull together a piece. Like the best sushi, the choreography is prepared directly in front of you; you're meant to switch between rooms and gawk. Many companies strategically marshal improvised phrases together in an orderly way, while others just go with the flow and mash bananas into the mat. Once the clock runs down, the musicians weigh in and each company takes its turn. Some follow the script, some abandon their plans, and a mesmerizing puzzle emerges out of what's remembered and what slips away in the sweaty moment.